Much has been made of what at first glance seems a strange alliance between The Greens and Bob Katter’s Australian Party around the issue of coal seam gas. For an interesting compare and contrast exercise, check out the following two interviews side by side.
FAQ Research interviewed Bob Katter MP, federal Member for Kennedy and leader of Katter’s Australian Party and Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters at the February 20 Jondaryan Big Day Out protest against coal seam gas and coal mining on prime agricultural land. (Both interviews also feature on the Behind the Seams group blog The Wellhead.)
In the current Queensland state election campaign, the Greens’ policy complements that of Bob Katter’s Australian Party, calling for landholders’ rights and the protection of agricultural land. And so, it seems, do their soundbites.
Katter’s party has made the call for a moratorium on coal seam gas exploration and extraction on farming land and a proposal to give farmers rights to refuse mining activity on their properties a key platform in its campaign in the Queensland state election which will be held on March 24.
Senator Waters has introduced two bills into federal parliament, to give farmers a right to deny access to mining companies on their land and to have water declared a matter of national environmental significance.
In the interview below, Senator Waters repeats her call for a Senate inquiry into the full range of issues raised by Coal Seam Gas, including its social and community impacts.
We also questioned Katter on the Australian Party’s federal stance on the issue, and Katter, while acknowledging that his relationship with his fellow cross benchers was strained, did pay lip service to Windsor’s work on the issue. Windsor and fellow Independent Rob Oakeshott secured bio-regional assessments that will take place in priority areas, funded by the Commonwealth, with oversight by an Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) in exchange for their support for the mining resource rent tax. Their reforms will also see changes to State laws and the involvement of local Catchment Management Authorities and other natural resource management bodies.
The state election campaign has, as they say, been ‘overshadowed’ by federal Labor’s leadership shenanigans. Premier Anna Bligh continues to promote her ‘Mines to Minds’ policy while Campbell Newman’s LNP strenuously defends its environmental policy. But the LNP is downplaying the Coal Seam Gas issue, presumably worried about its base in the bush.
Asked about a preference deal between the Greens and the Australian Party, Waters said that the Greens encouraged voters to decide their own preferences, but that she welcomed support from all quarters for the community campaign against Coal Seam Gas.
The Courier-Mail today announced it would avoid covering campaign stunts from the major party leaders, calling for a debate about policy. A debate about mining and agricultural and community policy has been brewing on the Western Downs. The question is when the shockwave created by the alliance of farmer, activists, Greens and Bob Katter hits Brisbane.
*Film and editing credit: David Granato.